Tybee Island: Coastal Sanctuary for Sun, Sand, and Serenity


Picture this, golden sands, gentle waves and warm sun on your skin – welcome to Tybee Island, Georgia’s coastal paradise. In this article, we will dive into the charm and allure of this idyllic paradise, located just a stone’s throw from the historic city of Savannah.

A beloved vacation destination, Tybee Island has captivated generations of visitors with its unique blend of natural beauty, rich history and laid-back vibe.

Whether you’re a beach bum in search of the perfect conch shell, a history buff eager to uncover stories of the past, or a foodie ready to savor local delicacies, Tybee Island is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

Erin Lincoln

Tybee Island Public Beaches

The island boasts several beautiful beaches, each offering its own unique atmosphere, amenities, and opportunities for adventure. Here’s a detailed look at the island’s top beaches, their locations, and facilities. Sandy shores stretch along the coastline, meeting the vast Atlantic Ocean, providing an ideal backdrop for a variety of beach activities:

Tybee Island Beach (South Beach)

Tybee Island Beach, located on the south end of Tybee Island, is a vibrant and popular destination stretching from 14th Street to 18th Street. It boasts an array of facilities including restrooms, showers, changing rooms, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and a nearby parking lot with metered spaces.

The beach is known for its lively atmosphere, enhanced by nearby shops, restaurants, and the Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion. It’s the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching, though it tends to be more crowded, especially during peak season.

Mid Beach

Mid Beach, situated along Butler Avenue between South Beach and North Beach, offers a different experience with limited public facilities. However, it’s conveniently located within walking distance to nearby hotels and vacation rentals.

This beach serves as a quieter alternative to South Beach, with fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s ideal for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, and beachcombing, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle.

North Beach

North Beach, at the north end of the island near the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, mirrors the facilities of South Beach, including restrooms, showers, changing rooms, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and a parking lot with metered spaces.

This picturesque location provides stunning views of the historic Tybee Lighthouse and easy access to Fort Screven. It’s an excellent spot for birdwatching, shelling, and enjoying a peaceful beach experience. The nearby North Beach Bar & Grill is a great place to enjoy delicious food and refreshing drinks with scenic ocean views.

Dominic Cox
Anna Piatek

Savannah River Beach

Savannah River Beach is located at the north end of the island, adjacent to the Savannah River entrance. It offers limited public facilities but is within walking distance of North Beach’s amenities.

This beach is a haven for those seeking tranquility, being somewhat removed from the bustling beach scene. Visitors can enjoy watching ships pass by, spotting dolphins in the river, or combing the shoreline for unique shells and driftwood.

Back River Beach

At the south end of the island, near the mouth of the Back River, lies Back River Beach. Similar to Savannah River Beach, it has limited public facilities but is close to South Beach’s amenities.

This serene retreat is perfect for activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. The beach offers stunning views of Little Tybee Island and provides a picturesque spot to watch the sunset.

Little Tybee Island Beach

Little Tybee Island Beach is an uninhabited island located south of Tybee Island and is accessible only by boat or kayak. As an undeveloped barrier island, it lacks public facilities or amenities, so visitors need to bring their supplies, including water, food, and beach gear.

The island offers a pristine beach experience, ideal for nature lovers and adventurers. Its unspoiled shoreline is perfect for shelling, birdwatching, and fishing.

Visitors can also explore the island’s diverse ecosystems, such as salt marshes and tidal creeks, teeming with wildlife. It’s a true off-the-beaten-path adventure, where visitors are encouraged to practice “Leave No Trace” principles to preserve the island’s natural beauty.

Unique Things to Do in Tybee Island

There’s plenty to do on Tybee Island, from soaking up the sun on the beach to exploring the island’s history. Here are a few ideas of things to do while you’re on Tybee Island. Visit the Tybee Post Theater for a taste of the island’s vibrant cultural scene or delve into the rich history of the area at the local historical society. Experience the exotic wildlife and landscapes unique to the island. Don’t miss exploring Tybee’s historic sites, where the past comes to life in fascinating ways.

Tybee Island Light Station and Museum

Steeped in history and standing tall as Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse, the Tybee Light Station has guided mariners safely to shore since 1773. Climb its 178 steps to the top of the tower, built with sturdy brick and masonry, and take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the surrounding area.

The adjacent museum, housed in an 1899 Military Battery, showcases fascinating exhibits and artifacts that detail the island’s storied past, including a special exhibit from 1967. Don’t forget to explore the beautifully restored Head Keeper’s Cottage and the Tybee Island Museum grounds

Historical Tybee Island Lighthousecourthouselover

The adjacent museum, housed in an 1887 Military Battery, showcases fascinating exhibits and artifacts that detail the island’s storied past throughout the 19th century and beyond, including significant events up to 1996. Don’t forget to explore the beautifully restored Head Keeper’s Cottage, a historical gem originally built in 1891, and the Tybee Island Museum grounds.

Fort Pulaski National Monument

A short drive from Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski National Monument is a testament to the island’s rich military history. Constructed between 1829 and 1847, the fort played a pivotal role in the American Civil War and showcases the evolution of military engineering and technology. Notably, the Battery Garland at the fort is a remarkable exhibit of this historical evolution.

Wander through the fort’s well-preserved rooms and corridors, learning about the site’s history through interpretive exhibits and ranger-led programs. The surrounding parkland, rich in saltwater wetlands, offers nature trails, birdwatching opportunities, and picturesque picnic spots.

The site also provides a unique glimpse into World War II history, displaying various military artifacts including a collection of rifles and other weaponry, some now considered obsolete. Efforts to rebuild and preserve these historical treasures have been supported by various grants, ensuring that Fort Pulaski remains an educational and cultural landmark.


Tybee Island Marine Science

The Tybee Island Marine Science Center is a must-visit for ocean enthusiasts and families alike. Through interactive exhibits, live animal displays, and educational programs, the center aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Georgia’s coastal ecosystem.

Highlights include the touch tank, where visitors can interact with local marine life, and guided beach walks led by knowledgeable naturalists. Be sure to check their calendar for special events and workshops.

Little Tybee Island

Just south of Tybee Island lies Little Tybee Island, an uninhabited barrier island that serves as a pristine nature preserve. Accessible only by boat or kayak, this hidden gem offers miles of unspoiled beaches, lush maritime forests, and flourishing salt marshes.

Ideal for a day trip or camping adventure, Little Tybee Island is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore, with activities like birdwatching, fishing, and beachcombing. Its remote location also makes it a prime spot for stargazing and witnessing awe-inspiring sunsets.

Outdoor Activities

Tybee Island’s natural beauty and coastal charm provide a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of activities and adventures.

Water sports enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to kayak through the meandering salt marshes or try their hand at paddleboarding and surfing on the island’s gentle waves. Fishing aficionados can cast their lines from the pier, join a deep-sea fishing expedition, or embark on a serene sunset boat tour to soak in the area’s picturesque beauty.

Explore the nearby Fort Screven Historic District for more insights into the area’s military past. Additionally, the tranquil waters of Wassaw Sound and the historic Cockspur lighthouse are nearby attractions not to be missed.

On land, discover the island’s diverse flora and fauna along biking and walking trails that weave through maritime forests and coastal landscapes. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of migratory and native bird species found in the area, including egrets, herons, and ospreys.

For an unforgettable marine encounter, hop on a dolphin tour to catch a glimpse of the playful bottlenose dolphins that call the island’s waters home. These guided tours are both fun and educational, offering insight into the local marine ecosystem and the behavior of these fascinating creatures.

Captain Mikes Dolphin Tours

Golf enthusiasts will find several nearby golf courses just a short drive from the island, where they can tee off amid stunning coastal scenery and meticulously maintained greens. With a variety of courses to choose from, there’s something for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy.

Tips for a Memorable Island Experience

  • Pack wisely: Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, along with casual and comfortable shoes for exploring the island. Don’t forget your swimsuit, beach towel, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Respect local customs and the environment: Remember to follow the island’s beach rules, such as avoiding dunes, properly disposing of trash, and respecting wildlife. Across the street from the main beach, you’ll find a small gallery showcasing local art and culture, a must-visit for a deeper understanding of Tybee Island’s heritage.
  • Safety first: Always pay attention to beach flags and lifeguard warnings, and be aware of local conditions such as rip currents or jellyfish. Upon your arrival at Tybee Island, make sure to check the latest safety updates and advisories for a worry-free experience.

Best Time to Visit

The island boasts a mild climate year-round, making it an inviting destination no matter the season. However, the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and interests.

  • From May to September, expect warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. These months are perfect for beachgoers, water sports enthusiasts, and those looking to indulge in the island’s vibrant atmosphere. Keep in mind, though, that this is the peak season, and crowds may be larger. Minutes from downtown, the island offers a quick escape from the city life, making it a popular choice for both tourists and locals.
  • For a more tranquil experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. The weather is still pleasant, but the island tends to be less crowded, providing a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Winter on the island can be quite peaceful, with cooler temperatures and fewer visitors. It’s an ideal time for long beach walks, birdwatching, and exploring the island’s rich history at a leisurely pace.

Accomodation Options

Hotels: Tybee Island offers a range of hotels to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. From charming boutique hotels boasting coastal-inspired décor to larger establishments with a full range of amenities, you’re sure to find the perfect place to rest your head after a day of island exploration.

Some popular hotel options include the Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island, Desoto Beach Hotel, and Hotel Tybee. Many hotels on the island are conveniently located within walking distance of the beach, local attractions, and dining options.

When booking your accommodation, consider factors such as proximity to the beach, availability of parking, and on-site facilities like pools, restaurants, and beach access to ensure the best possible stay for your needs.

Vacation Rentals: For those seeking a more private and personalized experience, vacation rentals are an excellent choice. The island boasts a variety of rental options, including beachfront homes, cozy cottages, and modern condos.

Vacation rentals often come equipped with all the comforts of home, including fully-stocked kitchens, laundry facilities, and outdoor spaces perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or evening barbecue.

To find the ideal vacation rental for your trip, explore options on websites like VRBO, Airbnb, or local rental agencies such as Tybee Vacation Rentals and Oceanfront Cottage Rentals.

Campgrounds: If you prefer to be immersed in the great outdoors, consider camping on Tybee Island. The Tybee Island Campground, also known as River’s End Campground and RV Park, offers a variety of options for campers, including tent sites, RV sites with full hookups, and rustic cabins.

The campground is conveniently located just a short walk from the beach and Tybee Island’s main attractions, making it an ideal base for your island adventure. Amenities include a swimming pool, bathhouses, laundry facilities, a camp store, and Wi-Fi.

For a more secluded camping experience, consider venturing to nearby Little Tybee Island. As an uninhabited nature preserve, it allows primitive camping in designated areas, offering a unique opportunity to connect with nature in a serene, undisturbed setting. Be sure to pack all necessary supplies, as there are no facilities on the island, and always follow Leave No Trace principles.

How to Get to Tybee Island?

Although Tybee Island feels like a world away, it’s conveniently located just 18 miles east of the enchanting city of Savannah, near the southeastern tip of Georgia.

Embrace the scenic drive, as lush marshes and the picturesque Lowcountry landscape unfold before your eyes, beckoning you closer to your coastal haven. This journey offers a delightful transition from the historic ambiance of downtown Savannah to the serene beach environment of Tybee Island.

By Car

  • From Savannah: To reach Tybee Island from Savannah, head east on President Street (US-80 E) and continue straight for about 18 miles. The route follows the path where the Savannah River empties into the Atlantic, offering a beautiful view as you approach the island. As you cross the Lazaretto Creek Bridge, you’ll be greeted by the island’s iconic welcome sign. Follow the road until you reach the island’s roundabout, which will connect you to different parts of Tybee.
  • From Atlanta: If you’re coming from Atlanta, take I-75 S and then merge onto I-16 E toward Savannah. Once you’re in Savannah, take Exit 167A onto Chatham Parkway and turn right on W Bay Street, which becomes US-80 E. Continue along US-80 E for approximately 18 miles to reach Tybee Island.
  • From Jacksonville: Travelers from Jacksonville can take I-95 N to Exit 99A, merging onto I-16 E towards Savannah. In Savannah, take Exit 167A onto Chatham Parkway and turn right on W Bay Street, which becomes US-80 E. Continue for about 18 miles to reach Tybee Island.

By Public Transportation

  • Chatham Area Transit (CAT) provides bus service from Savannah to Tybee Island via Route 4 (Tybee Island). The bus operates daily, with limited schedules on weekends and holidays. For detailed schedules and fares, visit the CAT website.
  • The Tybee Island Shuttle is another option, offering door-to-door service from Savannah to Tybee Island. This shuttle service is available by reservation, with pricing dependent on the number of passengers and pickup location.

Guided Tours

Several companies in Savannah offer guided tours to Tybee Island, which typically include transportation to and from the island, along with guided visits to attractions such as the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and Fort Pulaski National Monument. These tours are a hassle-free way to explore Tybee Island’s highlights with knowledgeable guides.

  • By Bicycle: If you’re up for an adventure, consider biking from Savannah to Tybee Island. The ride is approximately 18 miles, and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the Lowcountry marshlands. Be sure to plan your route carefully, as some portions of US-80 E may not have designated bike lanes.
  • Air Travel: The closest airport to Tybee Island is Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV). Once you’ve arrived, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or use rideshare services to reach Tybee Island, which is about a 45-minute drive away.


In conclusion, Tybee Island is a coastal haven that caters to a variety of interests, whether you’re seeking sun-soaked relaxation or thrilling adventures. Its unique blend of natural beauty, history, and local charm makes it a must-visit destination for travelers near and far.

Now that you have a glimpse of what this enchanting island has to offer, it’s time to embark on your own journey to paradise. So pack your bags, and let the warm sands and soothing ocean breeze whisk you away to an unforgettable Tybee Island experience.